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back to article Mars rover will.i.am 'cast: A depressing day for space and technology

Picture this. Deep in the incalculable vastness of space, sparse clouds of gas and dust coalesce over uncounted millions of years. At the centre of the resulting disc, gravity rams matter together with such force that a fusion flame is kindled: a small yellow star - a tiny pinprick of light against the black and infinite void - …

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Anonymous Coward

not just the latest tunes either

where's that textual rick-rolling guy when you need him?

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What is your problem exactly?

So will.i.am wants to not niche himself to STEM but include the arts as well?!?! Grow the fuck up Lewis!

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Holmes

Re: What is your problem exactly?

Particularly as mathematics and the arts are rather intertwined - both music and visual arts.

Indeed, Oxford and Cambridge award a BA to their mathematics undergraduates:

http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/maths/

http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/prospective_students (Maths & Stats)

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Re: What is your problem exactly?

They do indeed, but that may tell you rather more about their history than about mathematics.

(actually Oxford prefer you to take an MMath, which is 4 years; I don't know about Cambridge).

In fact many universities offer maths as both a BA and a BSc; this may be the outcome of deep philosophical debate between academic giants, or may be down to a turf war between faculties fighting for every penny they can get..

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Childcatcher

Oh for goodness sake Lewis.....

Give it up...think of the children....

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WTF?

Re: Oh for goodness sake Lewis.....

"For decades there is stagnation.... "

Well, I thought of listing all the space-probes, orbiting telescopes and science related satellites launched since the 1970s, but I looked at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Solar_System_probes and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_space_telescopes

and realised my fingers would get rather tired.

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Re: Oh for goodness sake Lewis.....

What's so bad about getting a bit of publicity for the rover and what NASA has achieved? I know it sounds incredible to readers of The Register, but some people will only have heard about the latest Mars rover due to little publicity stunts like these. And it is NASA's toy, as far as I understand they can do whatever they feel like with it. It is not up to you or me to approve every little thing that they use it for. I don't think the science aspect of the mission suffered.

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Re: Oh for goodness sake Lewis.....

Quite right. For this mission to have any lasting cultural impact all attempts should be made to include those who are not impressed by the mere thought of a robot tooling around on the surface of Mars. The first broadcast of recorded music from another planet is an outstanding achievement that should not be so easily dismissed by puritanical "science enthusiasts". This combination of boffinry and creativity appeals to a wider audience, and gives the mission meaning to many who would otherwise perhaps not have even heard about it. Those art fans get to vote/lobby and thus shape NASA's budget. If this mission is widely popular then cutting NASA's budget would be politically unthinkable.

I personally have a deep appreciation for both theoretical physics AND blues slide guitar. Are you suggesting the one is somehow superior to the other? Get a clue. I don't much care for his music, but Will.i.am seems to be a stand-up guy. A geeky kid who went to a science magnet school and seems genuinely interested in kids attitudes about science and even themselves. He also did a song for PBS' Sesame Street encouraging kids to be persistent, work to be their best, and keep a positive attitude. My 2 year old daughter absolutely loves it. Are you going to say that's garbage as well because it doesn't teach anything about science?

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That was was rather poetic for you Lewis, sarcy but poetic.

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Pirate

We Brits, of course, had Damien Hirst. Lost in space though.

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Don't forget Blur, they had a tune on Beagle that would have played to announce a successful landing...

Hmmmm...

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Coat

Don't forget Blur, they had a tune on Beagle that would have played to announce a successful landing...

They intended to use 'Slow Down', but loaded 'Bang' onto it by accident.

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Holmes

lew.u.is

STEAM? Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, of course.

Not Science, Technology, Engineering AND Mathematics, then? Just to be sure we're not doing anyone a disservice for the sake of a good strop, because in your quote will.i.am doesn't seem to mention art and talks of the relationship between humanity and technology, so perhaps he just fluffs the acronym rather than tries to cram the arts in there as you imply.

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Anonymous Coward

On the bright side ...

any aliens hearing this will no longer want to invade earth.

On the gloomy side, they may decide our species is beyond redemption and just sanitise us off the face of the earth

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Joke

Re: On the bright side ...

yeah i can just see it now!

Mr Mars Alien 1 says to Alien 2:

" I say we take off and nuke the entire planet from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

Alien 2's response: "Fuckin' A!"

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Coffee/keyboard

You owe me a new keyboard ...

... this one's full of tears induced by your terribly sad story.

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Could have done us all a favour

and sent William (don't care for poncy ways to spell perfectly good names) up to do a live performance.

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Coat

An easy mistake to make...

Perhaps somebody at NASA got Neil Armstrong confused with Louis Armstrong.

It's got the MP3 player with Michael Jackson's Principles of Program Design playing, in a pocket.

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Re: An easy mistake to make...

There was a paper with the headline 'astronaut Neil Young dies'. I thought my vinyl collection had rocketed for a moment.

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JDX
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To kids, getting a car to roll around on another planet is nothing they don't see every day on TV.

Involving stuff they are interested in is a good tool.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, but do they also know it has a big stash of Russian Pu-238 in the back keeping it nice and toasty?

Without which it would fail. Ex-military byproduct, natch.

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PT

Nobody cares about the Pu-238. The important thing is, does the Rover have 18 inch subwoofers and a 10,000 watt amplifier. Without which it would fail. Rap product, natch.

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Anonymous Coward

That might be a bit of a challenge to do in such thin air..... and does it have 10KW spare? Would it also fail without, say, spinner rims and cold cathode tubes under it? ;)

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Anonymous Coward

But the Pu-238 is funny, for the same reason the Canadarm was funny :P

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i guess the arts need to be in there...

sure, science and maths etc are fundamental to how we live but its the arts that give our lives that richness.

be it music, movies or videogames. its what makes life worth living.

then again, why choose Will.i.am? surely there was a decent musician who might have wanted to do it? why not the beatles or the stones... you know, the people that will still be remembered in 20 years and might not scare off any aliens with bloody autotune

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Ou are correct, arts are just as important as STEM, but it isn't a matter of importance. Just look at the number of MA Art history graduates vs # of new jon openings requiring an MA in Art History vs say the same for an MSc in Biotechnology or Genetics or Maths.

The world is packet full of budding artists in on form or another, the current fad is photography, videography will be next. Arts are usually fun, sciences are rewarding, there is a difference (I may not have expressed it well enough, but as a former research scientist turned photographer I do experience a difference, trust me nailing a shot at a wedding has nothing on catalyst design). As our generation has pretty much done FA to inspire kids towards STEM (no concorde 2, no walking on Mars, no moonbase etc) and as you acknowledge STEM is vitally important unless we want a future working in mines for our Chinese overlords, we need an initiative to get kids inspired and supported in learning science etc. So yes, whilst some areas of the arts are underfunded such as operas and are vital to a vibrant society, I am a little pissed off to see arts pushing its way into a scheme thats extremely important to solve problems it doesn't have. To get kids learning maths and sciences they need to see and experience the applications and society needs to change its values away from worshipping footballers and this seasons idle american winner and towards people who are actually making fundamental leaps forward in the quality of our lives. People like Barre-Sinoussi working towards a cure for aids (and they are pretty damn close) or Roy Taylor whose team look like they have a cure for type two diabetes, something that plagues the lives of 2.5 million people in the UK alone. Just ask those people would you trade a cure for diabetes for will.i.am? These should be the people our kids aspire to emulate but the media barely mention them yet some tit of a football player crashes his car or gets in a fight and its all we hear for a week. The next antibiotic to fight cdiff or mrsa or whatevers next isn't likely to come from an xfactor winner yet thats what the majority of kids want to be.

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Nothing inspires like cold, hard cash

> s our generation has pretty much done FA to inspire kids towards STEM (no concorde 2, no walking on Mars, no moonbase etc)

Most children want to be a fireman, train driver, a ballet dancer or pop star. Though when they grow up they almost certainly won't be. The point is not to inspire someone when they're 6 years old, but to give them opportunities, a scientific education and a well defined career path. That's what will get the practically minded kids studying the "right" subjects at university, not a song that was played to them 10 or 15 years before they left school.

So if you want a new generation of programmers, bio-technologists, DNA hackers or nuclear physicists, forget about "catching them while they're young". Instead make sure there are jobs available that will use their expertise when they graduate.

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fair play. i agree we need more scientists/engineers etc and less bloody arts students :)

agreed that news is too skewed to bloody celebs and not real news too... we have radio1 piped here at work and im amazed how much real news is dropped in favour of celeb tittle tat.

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@Citizen Caned

Agree with your point that it is the arts that give our life a bit of richness, but taste in music is way too individual to even agree on what makes a decent musician. Take your Beatles example. Popular yes, wrote a few well known tunes that have stood the test of time and therefore are considered classics, but decent musicians, that's debatable. It's often quoted that when asked by a journo if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, John Lennon replied that he wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles. Yet other bands which are far more technically able and have written some great tunes (take Rush for example) are virtually ignored by the mainstream. I'm not a will.I.am fan but I bet there are plenty out there. My point is no matter what song you choose, there will be someone out there saying 'why the hell did they pick that?, They should have choose something else'. So by that token why not will.I.am? Admittedly though, wouldn't have been my choice either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing inspires like cold, hard cash

Well, it would have helped if Ronnie R and Iran-Contra fraud hadn't killed Ferranti as a high-tech employer in the UK, particularly in Scotland. They had a nice apprentice scheme. Thanks, Ron, for everything.

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Re: Nothing inspires like cold, hard cash

Very true, but there is a lot more to it then just a job, there are jobs even now.

It's only my opinion, but I think there are many factors, starting with parents inspiring their kids and opening their minds. Challenge them to think. Theres nothing wrong with supporting a football team, but theres also nothing wrong with teaching your kids about engineers like brunel, or surgeons and scientists who save and improve millions of lives. Kids are like sponges for information, even at 3-4 years old. Then school plays a part, having teachers that recognise (and teachers that are supported to do this) talent and nuture it. Teachers that inspire kids by showing them how a 'boring' equation or process relates to the real world. Then support them at university and in post grad with loans etc. Start removing barriers and have kids do more practical experiments (which requires more money).

I grew up in a science orientated household, my parents had a huge impact on me, but even bigger than that was a college chemistry tutor with a phd who taught very little of the syllabus and a lot about chemistry in the real world. Also an oppertunity to work in industry at a relatively young age helped. It switched me from biology which I found easier to chemistry which I found a lot harder.

STEM is a start but parents, government and schools all need to step up. Even more jobs will come when the talent is here. Maybe even the government funding more research directly.

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Re: @peter

Send exit stage left by rush up, any alien invaders will be found playing air guitar to passage to bangkok and easily picked off. Awesome music and as you say, sadly ignored by many.

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Re: @peter

@Rampant Spaniel: 2112, Moving pictures, Power Windows, Permanent Waves etc all awesome albums, but for every person with your obviously impeccable taste, there's another hundred that have either not heard them or don't like them.

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Are you seriously calling Mr I.Am's electronically retuned waveform "Art"?

Why did they have to use a new track (apart from the publicity Mr Am gets)? There are plenty of far more musical pieces which could have been played.

Personally I rather like the idea of the rover trundling over the Martian surface with "Ride of the Valkyries" blasting out.

Or maybe Monty Python's universe song with a few re-edits to allow for the different orbital and rotational speed of Mars.

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@Steve Evans

"Are you seriously calling Mr I.Am's electronically retuned waveform "Art"?", I have to admit that I don't know the song in question. But I'm sure that if Tracy Emin's unmade bed or Damien Hurst's dead animals exhibits can be considered art, then someone somewhere will view it as such. I like both of your alternate suggestions though!

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Alien

Robinson

made it to Mars!

I'll vote for the "visit us" promoting song of

"He's a lumberjack and he's ok"

Where is the love?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @peter

Yeah, but on the down side, they seemed to think Ayn Rand was a respectable author ;)

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"Personally I rather like the idea of the rover trundling over the Martian surface with "Ride of the Valkyries" blasting out."

A nuclear powered, deathray wielding robot pumping out "Ride of the Valkyries".

Awesome!

(Plan B is Star Trekking. Less awesome but more funny)

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Re: @Steve Evans

I guess we are. Just because I don't like it doesn't make it 'not art'. There is a huge amount of 'art' that is in fact to the majority of people complete bollocks. Apparently art is happy for this to be considered art so I am happy to leave them to it. The real test will be that of time, will future generations consider turfing the inside of a church art or simply a lazy talentless twat trying to get some coin. Probably the latter, but for now that isn't the case. In the present the art 'community' is the judge.

As for what song to send, I am a little shocked they didn't pick the most obvious one, Bowie's 'Life on Mars'.

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Re: Nothing inspires like cold, hard cash

The talent is there, the money takes it away from science/engineering or the UK. Number of times I've been offered a 'promotion' to management. Yeh thansk.

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"... im amazed how much real news is dropped in favour of celeb tittle tat."

So true. I don't understand why people are so interested. For me, the process goes: "Do I like this music? Yes/no. Do I want to hear more of it? Yes/no. Do I care at all about the musician's background/tastes/sexuality/convictions? No, not at all." A similar process works with films, applied to actors/directors usually, and authors. In fact, it applies to almost everything except polititics, where a bit of background information is often very useful.

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You are now your parents

Well done. Very poetic article. But you're arguing against something that is getting lots of people who otherwise would pay no attention to this Mars mission to notice it and maybe get interested in it. Or is the author of this article an elitist who thinks that unless someone is already hanging in out in the channels that discuss this stuff, that they don't deserve to be made aware of it.

How long is the will.i.am track? A few minutes? We can't spare a few minutes out of the entire length of the mission to get a lot of people who wouldn't have seen much coverage of the mission to be made more aware of it? Or to see that a popular celebrity and musician thinks its cool and maybe therefore it is cool? Or does the author dislike the idea that science could be cool and mainstream popular because it threatens their feeling of being better in some way?

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FAIL

Actually, the A for arts is something that the maker movement is pushing for.

Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame did a great speech at this years MakerFaire, all about adding in the A to STEM, and it isn't just about promoting the latest tunes! Art is the creative side, and without that life is boring. Check out the speech on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNKS4K1tCto

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Ford Prefect wants his article back.

The Earth - Mostly harmless.

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Re: Ford Prefect wants his article back.

Not bad coverage for a disintegrated pile of rubble.

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Anonymous Coward

care not

Who cares HOW people are inspired, more importanly that they ARE inspired by whatever means.

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Way to piss off the Martians/Mysterons

Gerry Anderson and H.G Wells never guessed that the war between Mars and Earth would be started because of some nobhead rapper who can't spell his name correctly broadcasting shite from a car on mars!

Shame on you NASA for bringing space exploration and the engineering marvel that is Curiosity down to this. If you wanted to blast out some tunes on Mars, then it could at least be Wyld Stallions, or Jeff Wayne's Eve of the War

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Re: Way to piss off the Martians/Mysterons -or - Does the RIAA know about this?

.... Remember what happened in "Mars Attacks" ?

Also, could this be the start of chav-like behaviour on another planet? ... It'll be drag-racing of mars rovers and donut-burning next!

Can you smoke the tyres in the martian atmosphere?

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Re: Way to piss off the Martians/Mysterons

It does make some of us despair but NASA are being pushed hard and fighting for their existence. They play expensive games and have to indulge in such spectacular nonsense - and ever increasing sensationalist claims of evidence of extraterrestrial life being discovered - to keep the public interested to pay the bills.

It's a great shame NASA have to be such publicity whores but if that's the price they have to pay then good luck to them. I'd rather have a debate driven by criticism of NASA than simply see them fade into oblivion. NASA's greatest problem is that neither she nor anyone else has a vision that inspires beyond the "what's the point?" of everyone's depressing lives in the 21st century.

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Re: Way to piss off the Martians/Mysterons

I agree. Darpa gets away with building air conditioned hangers for dolphins, yet NASA has to beg for every last cent. NASA used to employ 400000 people, send astronauts to the moon, operate a fleet of shuttles and inspire countless kids to actually pay attention in school. Now they thumb rides of the Russians. For the same reasons art enriches life, NASA's old ways of doing crazy shiznit just because theres a chance it might be possible enriches us.

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